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back to article Mosquitoes, Comets and Vampires: The de Havilland Museum

Approaching the museum down a bumpy single track road you start wondering if any of this makes any sense. Why is this museum in the middle of nowhere? Why are the opening hours so peculiar? Why are there bits of aircraft lying around? Why does it have two different names? All becomes apparent in due course and in the process …

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Mosquito

Best looking aeroplane. Ever.

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Re: Mosquito

Best looking aeroplane. Ever.

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Re: Mosquito

The mozzie was IMHO the best WW2 Aircraft.

Second best WW2 aircraft was the Hurricane. I had the honor of meeting its designer shortly before he died.

The best Aircraft ever has to be the Harrier. No bias here :) I worked at Dunsfold for a time in the 1970's.

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Re: Mosquito

You look at the UK jets of the 50's/60's and my god did they have style.

Just look at planes like the DH Vampire, and the Supermarine Swift, Hawker Hunter and even the graceful Vulcan. They just looked great.

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Re: Mosquito

I was just trying to be witty. Comparing apples and oranges is always futile.

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Re: Mosquito

The Mosquito is my all-time favourite aircraft. Beautifully proportioned and the front profile of the FB variants with the four 20mm cannon in the nose and the radiator openings inboard of the engines gave it powerful warlike appearance unmatched by any other WW2 aircraft.

Bomber, Fighter-Bomber, Recon, Pathfinder, Night-fighter, Ground attack, anti-tank, ant-shipping / submarine. The first true multi-role aircraft.

Any wonder it had Goering bricking his pants?

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Re: Mosquito

It's a looker, but my favourite is still the Handley Page Victor. It's like something from a 1950's sci-fi comic.

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Re: Mosquito

The Timber Terror/Wooden Wonder was definitely the best bomber of the war. Scarily, by not carrying several tons of armour and defensive guns the Mosquito could actually deliver the same bomb load to Berlin as a B17, while taking off a few hours later and being back first.

I think the head of the Luftwaffe, Herman Goring gives the Mosquito best reference.

"It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that? There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops. After the war is over I'm going to buy a British radio set - then at least I'll own something that has always worked."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mosquito

Several aircraft could carry a bigger bombload than the B17 - a bomber laden down with guns and armour whose purpose in the Combined Bomber Offensive was to draw the German fighter aircraft into a war of attrition they could not win but could not avoid either.

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Re: Mosquito

Agreed, though you missed out the English Electric Lightning. Now THERE was an stunning, and unique, looking machine!

The Vulcan also sounded amazing (there's a video on YouTube of one doing a fly-over of some plane spotters).

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JQW

Re: Mosquito

The Mosquito also acted as a freighter. Several Mosquitos in BOAC colours were used to transport ball bearings from Stockholm to Leuchars, using the bomb bay as a cargo store.

The bomb bay in these Mosquitos could also be used as an improvised cabin to transport a single passenger. The most notable passenger to be flown this way was physicist Niels Bohr who was smuggled out of Sweden in 1943.

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Re: Mosquito

I've been at an airshow when a Vulcan did a low slow flypast, loud is not really a good enough description, its more like a thunder that permeates throughout, a bit like standing near a big waterfall but caused by a sodding huge set of jet engines..

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MrT
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The most iconic noise a Vulcan makes...

... IMVHO, is the eery, baleful howl just as the engines spool up, like it's crying out to be in the air already...

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Re: Mosquito

I was able to see a Mosquito in the air during an Armistice Day fly-past in Nov., 2012 - an impressive aircraft, but for my money the best looking aircraft of WW2 would be the ME262.

The world's first operational combat jet, the only jet to see squadron service during the war, and as an additional plus it had a healthy speed advantage of the Mosquito, which would have probably seen the Mosquito become just another old aircraft if the war had continued.

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Re: Mosquito

'the only jet to see squadron service during the war,'

Which does raise the question of what the RAF's 616 Squadron were flying from mid-44 onwards if it wasn't a jet fighter... <cough> Meteor </cough>

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Re: Mosquito

As long as your considering the ME262 based purely on looks without considering that it was rushed into service before it was ready. This showed because it needed a new set of engines every couple of flights and replacement airframes and also required replacement pilots who were killed when the engines failed almost as frequently.

ME262's that are flying today have modern engines installed, because nobody wants to commit suicide by flying with the originals installed. The Rolls Royce engines on the Meteor though? Funnily enough those can actually still be used.

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Re: Mosquito

The Mosquito was an extremely cool aeroplane, no doubt. But then there's also the SR-71, IMHO one of the coolest (or, more precisely, hottest) aircraft ever. And the looks!

But what about the Me 262? Years ahead of anything on the allied side. Or, one of my favourites for sheer bonkers value, the Me 162? ("Yes, we're going to put you in a tiny little sail plane and strap an enormous hydrogen peroxide rocket to your a*se. What could possibly go wrong?")

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Joke

Re: Mosquito

"bomb bay in these Mosquitos could also be used as an improvised cabin"

- and you wouldn't DARE complain about the in-flight service or delays!

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Re: Mosquito

The longevity of the Meteor engines comes back to the genius of Frank Whittle. He built a centrifugal flow jet engine, which in most respects is inferior to the axial flow engine that was on the Me262 and is the basis of all modern jet engines. To increase the power of a centrifugal engine, the cross-sectional area increases, so there's the issue of diminishing returns with air resistance, unlike the axial flow, where you just add another compressor disk to the shaft.

The genius is revealed in his answer when he was asked why he'd picked the centrifugal engine, and he remarked on the inadequate materials available for the axial flow engine and the high stresses incurred, compared to the centrifugal approach. He knew about the axial, but also understood why its time had yet to arrive. This is why the Meteor engines just worked, and the Me262 ones kept failing.

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Re: Mosquito

I am sorry but no sound from a video can do justice to a high powered fly past by a Vulcan. In real life the experience was truly visceral.

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Re: Mosquito

I believe the life expectancy of the engines on the ME262 was below 100 hours but not as bad as a few flights. However did it matter when the life expectancy of the plane due to combat was much less?

On a similar note I worked on a tank for the Pakistan military and was surprised by both the superb accuracy of the gun but also the very small number of shots (about 30-50) that it could fire whilst maintaining anything like that accuracy. I asked about this and they explained that it was better to have a highly accurate gun for a small number of rounds, rather than an OK gun for more rounds, as the life expectancy of the entire tank in combat was extremely short....

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Re: Mosquito

Absolutely. Total sensory deprivation. I have had the good fortune to be by a Vulcan taking off a few times at Fairford and Filton. It isn't just a noise, it's something that seems to permeate every cell in your body. If you had asked me what 2+2 was at the time I would have probably answered "a badger" or something!

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Re: Mosquito

I've never been able to choose between the Mosquito and the Spitfire. Both are hot lookers, both are hot performers, both wound up doing heaps of things their designers had not originally imagined. And both are proof of the airman's dictum: if it looks right, it is right.

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English Electric Lighnting? Re: Mosquito

My vote goes for the Fairey Delta. Now if it had been developed to its full potential ... the Dassault Mirage was after all, Fairey Delta V1.2.5 or thereabouts.

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Childcatcher

Re: Mosquito

Actually the Germans had a comparable interceptor built of advanced composite wood, that some engineers feel was the beginning of the new age of air-frame technology; but the only chemical formula plans for the glue that held it together burned in a fire set by Allied bombing! HA! I wouldn't doubt is was a Mosquito Squadron that got the plant!

No one has repeated this chemistry to this day! Good for us, but bad for technical sciences! We would have had lighter and stronger air-frames sooner for the jet age that would have saved trillions in fuel costs and air-frame failures and crashes!

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Gimp

Re: Mosquito

"Several aircraft could carry a bigger bombload than the B17 - a bomber laden down with guns and armour whose purpose in the Combined Bomber Offensive was to draw the German fighter aircraft into a war of attrition they could not win but could not avoid either."

True! But we were bombing in broad daylight with German fighters and successfully trained anti-aircraft fire on our squadrons! The US will not put up with losses any more that your Parliament! However, my Dad never got over the damage he saw when he toured Germany after the onslaught we unleashed on the German populace. He threw his guts up when he saw the damage on the people of Germany! He traveled later on and asked his cousins for forgiveness; and they said they were totally okay with the situation as we were all in back then! This history is very complicated to say the least!

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Re: Mosquito

Nothing surpasses the EE lightning on full afterburn, for noise.

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Re: apples and oranges

Comparing apples and oranges is not futile. It's quite easy. Whilst both are delicious, sweet, round and grow on trees, they taste quite different. Apples can be baked in pies, but oranges cannot. Apples come in a variety of colors, but oranges are almost uniformly the same color (a kind of reddish-yellow).

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Re: Mosquito

Live at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight, and every so often the Lanc flies over the house - has to be said, thats a rather nice sound :-)

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A fascinating place.

And right on my doorstep, which causes me to wonder why I don't get round there more often!

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TRT
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Re: A fascinating place.

I've been there a few times. Lovely place. Great atmosphere.

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Re: A fascinating place.

Anybody in that neck of the woods shouldn't miss out on visiting Old Warden, a few miles up the road in Bedfordshire.

When I first went I was expecting it would be rather dull, full of stuffed stringbags, but the reality is that it is alive, with many of the exhibits in flying condition and brought out on special occaisions, lots of detail on the engineering and the history. If you're there during the week you can see the guys restoring aircraft, but even at weekends the place reeks of fabric dope and engine oil. Compared to the sterile, odour free RAF museums at Cosford and Hendon, Old Warden shows what an aircraft museum should be,

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TRT
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Re: Multimedia in museums - olfaction overlooked.

You're not wrong there.

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Re: A fascinating place.

Ditto - I must have gone to Willows Farm a million times when my sprog was younger..never even knew it was there!

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Mushroom

Re: A fascinating place.

"And right on my doorstep, which causes me to wonder why I don't get round there more often!"

Okay. How old are you? Was there human fat pools at that doorstep after the firestorms? Just wondering! My Dad had nightmares about that for the rest of his life! :/

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DJO
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Bombs Away...

A few years ago I met an elderly gent who flew Mosquitoes in WWII, he said he bombed the Phillips Factory in occupied Holland an act which gained my eternal gratitude, just a shame he didn't do a better job as Phillips are still in business.

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Chz

Chipmunk

De Havilland Canada was an entirely separate design entity post-war. Mainly of note because it out-lived its parent company and was arguably more successful in the post-war era. Bombardier still builds DHC-8s and another company bought the rights to the older aircraft and still builds DHC-6s to order.

The Chipmunk is of note for having a low enough stall speed (roughly 40kts) to hover over people's back gardens in a moderate wind. Scares the crap out of them.

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Re: Chipmunk

The Chipmunk was notable for flying backwards in higher winds. Particularly on final approach when they contacted ATC reporting a position further away than their last contact.

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Re: Chipmunk

Ahh... A Chipmunk T.10 was the first plane I ever flew (OK I've only ever flown 4...). Great introduction to flying :)

Memories... (and wishing that I could afford to actually get my license!)

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Re: Chipmunk

The Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight still keep a couple of Chippies around for training new pilots to land a tail dragger. I just missed out on flying one, ended up flying in Bulldogs instead, but some of the cadets a year older than me flew in Chipmonks a few times.

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Happy

Re: Chipmunk

A small claim to fame for me is that my very first flight was in a Chipmunk and I was even allowed to briefly take control. Even better was the second (or third?) trip where some beginner aerobatics were attempted. I say attempted as my first loop ended in a stall, so I was told to try again. Happy days!

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A little gem

I haven't been there for many years but it's nice to see little have changed. While it does not have the facilities of a Duxford or Cosford, the informality and lack of restrictions of enthusiast run collections are always a refreshing change.

Definitely worth a visit

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One small thing... The Horsa was an Airspeed design, not Handley Page... Airspeed were an interesting company, started in part by author Neville Shute, who were ultimately absorbed by DeHavilland. Interestingly Shute predicted the fatigue problems that would plague the early Comets in his novel 'No Highway'

Its worth remembering though that large chunks of DeHavilland remain as parts of Airbus. The vast Airbus wing factory at Hawarden near Chester was for years a DeHavilland factory, as was Astrium in Stevenage.

MW

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Neville Shute Norway worked for DeHavilland before he went off to join Vickers to help create R100, the successful private attempt at a British designed and built Airship. (unlike the R101, which was a government project).

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My grandfather loathed the Horsa glider. He was a Para who parachuted into occupied Holland as part of Operation Market Garden (the attempt to takes the Rhine bridges at places like Arnhem). He jumped from a Dakota, and on getting to the ground he found that many of the Paras in the gliders had been crushed to death. This was a combination of piss-poor planning - the fields were ploughed at that time of the year, tipping the gliders up onto their nose - and the insistence on taking heavy equipment including things like jeeps in the back of the gliders. As the glider impacted the ground, or worse still tipped up, the equipment broke free to crush the troops up at the front.

He never got to Arnhem, as the Germans and their Dutch allies knew they were coming to help the Paras already holding one side of the bridge. It was only a few years ago that the records were released showing that German counter-intelligence had compromised the Dutch resistance and had been monitoring the coded radio messages for months. He spent the rest of the war in a POW camp.

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I am down the Saaarf...

Over christmas, so will try to pop in and have a look around - looks a great place to lose a few hours.

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Re: I am down the Saaarf...

Good Luck with that...

"The museum is open from the first Sunday of March to the last Sunday of October. "

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MrT
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Depends what you want to see...

...because Tony Agar's been reconstructing a Mosquito NFII for years at Yorkshire Air Museum, which is amongst an amazing collection.

But then I'm a little bit biased in that respect since I was working on exhibits for YAM before it ever got going at Elvington, stripping Merlin XX's from JP165 for display/parts and picking mud from the rear fuselage section of HR792, both aircraft from 58 squadron, whilst YAM existed in the minds of Ian Robinson and Bobby Sage, but physically at a lockup at RAF Dishforth and a storage unit at Melmerby...

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DH.89 Dragon Rapide

You can still take a spin in one of these at http://www.classicairforce.com/ (Cornwall UK)

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Re: DH.89 Dragon Rapide

And at IWM Duxford.

Their one is rather fun - as well as them weighing all six(!) of the passengers before boarding (so they can trim the plane by human-ballast distribution) the pilot likes to fly back along the line of a local dual-carriageway and let the passengers watch the trucks driving faster than he's flying.

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